Bhubaneswar: In a big victory in the fight against Left extremists, 18 Maoists were gunned down in the Malkangiri forest area on Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border early on Monday.
The Naxals were neutralised in a joint operation by the Odisha Police and their counterparts from Andhra Pradesh. Police suspect that a top Maoist leader and son of another high ranking cadre might be among those killed in the encounter.
AP Director General of Police, Nanduri Sambasiva Rao who left for Visakhapatnam immediately upon receiving news of the encounter, confirmed the Naxal casualties to PTI.
According to AP Police, two constables of Greyhounds, an elite anti-Maoist force, were also injured in the encounter that occurred during a routine combing operation being jointly carried out by police of both the states at Ramgurha in Malkangiri district of Odisha.
The face-off between the security personnel and the outlaws lasted for about an hour.
The injured constables were shifted for treatment to the King George Hospital in Visakhapatnam by helicopter, the police official added.
Police have recovered four AK-47 rifles from the scene of the encounter, where a Maoist den was also found.
The DGP said combing operation was still continuing as there was information that there were some more Maoists roaming in the region.
Over the past month, the police had intensified anti-Maoists operations in Malkangiri after intelligence reports had warned of a plan by the ultras to revive their presence in the district bordering Andhra Pradesh.
Last week, the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) sought an action taken report from district authorities in Malkangiri over a petition seeking protection for people living in the area under Maoist threat.
The OHRC has sought within six weeks the response from the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police of Malkangiri over the matter, which was transferred to it by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Some months ago, the affected villagers, mostly tribals, had visited the Collector’s office in Malakangiri, seeking administration’s help and adequate security in their villages.
Human rights activist Sangita Swain had moved the NHRC, “seeking justice” for the people of Andrapalli and Panaspat in Malkangiri district.
Ms Swain had alleged that the Maoists tortured and killed tribal people suspecting them to be police informers and set houses on fire and their human rights were violated by the inaction/ unlawful action by the police or public authority in Malkangiri.
She had sought protection of the tribals from the Maoists and a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the kin of those killed and Rs 5 lakh to other victims.
She had claimed that the tribal people were leaving their villages “out of fear”.
The OHRC order said the Collector and the SP of Malkangiri district be provided the copy of the petition filed by Ms Swain, as it posted the next hearing in the case to November 25.
With agency inputs